Naoya Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) recently revealed the strongest fighter he has ever faced in his young, impressive pro boxing career.
In an interview with ringtv.com, ‘The Monster’ said that while his first fight against Nonito Donaire was his toughest to date, the distinction of being his strongest opponent belongs to top-rated featherweight Leigh Wood.
Naoya Inoue bared that he fought Wood in a sparring session while training for his fight against Jamie McDonnell in 2018. The current No.2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world said that he felt the tremendous punching power of Wood, who is about two inches taller than him.
The unified bantamweight champion said:
“Leigh Wood, the current WBA featherweight titleholder whom I sparred with before the Jamie McDonnell fight, had tremendous punching power.”
He continued to talk about Wood's size by saying:
“Wood is a natural featherweight, and his weight was probably much higher than the featherweight limit when I sparred with him. He was big and probably because of that, I really felt his power and strength.”
Wood (26-2, 16KOs) will defend his secondary WBA Featherweight Title against Mauricio Lara on September 24 in his hometown of Nottingham, England.
Naoya Inoue says possible clash with Stephen Fulton "won’t be an easy fight"
In the same interview with ringtv.com, Naoya Inoue also talked about his impending move to the super bantamweight division where he could face the likes of Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Stephen Fulton. Akhmadaliev is the WBA and IBF champion while Fulton holds the WBC and WBO straps.
The Japanese said that he is not fully aware of Akhmadaliev’s capabilities but claimed that he has “solid technique and is a strong fighter” based on a few highlights he has watched so far.
As for Fulton, the rising star said:
“I watched the Fulton-Brandon Figueroa fight. Fulton is a technical fighter. He can keep his distance very well. I only watched one of his fights and I don’t think the Figueroa fight was his best, so I’d rather not say much more.”
He also added:
“If we fight each other, I think it will be a great technical battle. It won’t be an easy fight. Fulton has a long reach, and I think it’s about how well I close the distance.”
Naoya Inoue is the IBF, WBA and WBC Bantamweight Champion and is looking to collect the missing piece in his bid to become an undisputed world champion when he faces WBO champion Paul Butler (32-2, 15 KOs) this December. He made quick work of Filipino legend Nonito Donaire to become the undisputed champion last June.